Savannah is the quintessential Southern city that can take your breath away and delight your senses like no other. From strolling around the beautiful squares in a horse-drawn carriage to walking along River Street and admiring the locally-owned shops and Savannah River, you’ll find fun in all shapes and sizes here.
When our girls were young, Savannah and neighboring Tybee Island were our stomping grounds. We vacationed there so many times. I recently went back after a decade of hiatus. While there are plenty of new things to see and do, the city was just how I remembered—hauntingly lovely, sophisticated, and still swimming with historical attractions.
Here are 14 fun things to do in Savannah, GA, that will give you an excellent place to start exploring the Southern gem.
1. Take a Food Tour
I can’t recommend the Savannah Taste Experience enough —what a fun and tasty way to get familiar with this beautiful city. Not only did we have a witty and friendly guide who shared historical info and fun facts about Savannah with us, but the restaurants included were great choices.
My husband and I took the three-hour-long First Squares food tour. We sampled bbq and a fried green tomato from Savannah Smokehouse BBQ & Brew, appetizers and honey from Savannah Bee Company, a delicious baked meat pie from The Little Crown by Pie Society.
2. Cruise on the Georgia Queen
I absolutely love getting out on the river when I travel. These handsome Victorian-style riverboats are just the way to get a narrated tour, learn the area’s history, and take great pictures of the Savannah skyline and historic riverfront.
Besides the usual lunch and dinner cruise, Sundays feature a brunch cruise (90 minutes) on the Georgia Queen (of Savannah Riverboat Cruises) with Southern fried chicken, spiral ham, shrimp & grits salads, desserts, and lots more served buffet-style.
The Georgia Queen riverboat can carry up to 1,000 passengers, you have a reserved table for dining (yes, it is climate-controlled), and then you are free to wander the boat and sit wherever you like. Drinks are available for purchase during the entire cruise.
3. Have a Perfect Coffee or Tea
The Gryphon Tea Room on Madison Square has been one of my favorite places to drink tea in Savannah for 20 years or more. Formerly a 1920’s apothecary, this gorgeous mahogany-heavy cafe is as enjoyable to eat and drink at as it is to look at.
Afternoon tea runs around $20 and includes pastries, tea sandwiches, scones (with Devonshire cream and jam), and petit fours—and it is terrific.
Savannah’s Gallery Espresso is an eclectic coffee house with a hodge-podge of furniture, gifts, artwork, and fun yet funky vibe. I felt right at home and visited daily during my trip to Savannah.
The menu includes salads, sandwiches, breakfast items, wine, pastries, and desserts, but the real star is the coffee drinks. From cafe au lait to an Americano, Turkish coffee to macchiato, they have it all, and it is excellent.
4. Tour the American Prohibition Museum
One of the newest attractions in downtown Savannah is the American Prohibition Museum, with memorabilia, a few wax figures, holograms, and a charming speakeasy. Learn about the still talked about alcohol ban from 1920 to 1933 through the Prohibition Museum’s 20 exhibits and displays in this well-done family-friendly space.
You will also learn firsthand how NASCAR is associated with prohibition, what bootlegging truly meant, and how the ban on legal spirits swept the nation.
5. Indulge in Homemade Ice Cream
Leopold’s has been serving guests of Savannah super-premium ice cream since 1919. The famous Broughton Street space has been serving the community delicious sweet treats for over 100 years. Flavor profiles include Rum Bisque (with baked almond macaroons), Peppermint, Chocolate Chewies and Cream, and Peanut Butter Chippy, but I remember the Butter Pecan being supreme even years ago.
Try a Banana Split, the most Instagram-worthy item on the menu, and enough to feed two. Seasonal flavors are also available, changing monthly.
Besides ice cream, Leopold’s also has sandwiches, made-from-scratch soups, sandwiches, and salads. There are also several fresh-baked pastries, cookies, and cakes to choose from.
6. See Savannah’s Gorgeous Churches and Architecture
You can’t think of Savannah without considering the wonderful architectural gems in the city. Gorgeous ornate churches and cathedrals, the picturesque courthouse, historic buildings, and statues set this city apart from so many other Southern counterparts.
My favorite building is the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, which looks even more lovely at night than in the daytime. Here is the basilica captured from the balcony of my hotel room.
More famous Savannah churches to visit or at least admire the beauty of are:
- St. John’s Episcopal Church
- Wesley Monumental Church
- Independent Presbyterian Church
- First African Baptist Church
- Christ Church
- Temple Mickve Israel
- Trinity United Methodist
- Lutheran Church of the Ascension
7. Admire Forsyth Park
Maybe it’s everybody’s favorite square, but definitely mine; Forsyth Park is 30 acres of picture-perfect green space with Spanish moss, vibrant blooms, and an iconic fountain. It is one of Savannah’s most photographed spots, named after the Georgia Governor at the time.
Forsyth is the largest and oldest of all Savannah’s squares.
Need more to do in the area? How about a quick trip over to Tybee Island for beach fun, fresh seafood, and even more fun? We can help you find five fun things to do around Tybee Island in this post.
8. See Savannah by Trolley
Old Savannah Tours are a great way to see a lot of the city from the comfort of the easy-to-hop-on-and-off trolley and offer excellent photo ops. You can stop as much or as little as you like.
Fifteen stops complete the Savannah loop, which includes Savannah’s squares, Clary’s Cafe, Sorrel Weed House, the Juliette Gordon Low Home, and Pirate’s House, to name a few. When you are ready to go again, you can catch the next trolley every 15-20 minutes.
9. Taste Gourmet Chocolates
Indulge in the chocolatey deliciousness handcrafted in Savannah by Adam Turoni. You can find these specialty morsels at one of the coolest candy stores in the nation, Chocolat. Adam’s stunning displays of exquisite chocolates tucked away in antique-style bookshelf curios is a feast for your eyes, and his candies, for your stomach.
The red-velvet cake truffles were my top pick.
10. Tour the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace
Did you know that the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace was the first National Historic Landmark in Savannah? This elegant and historic home, built from 1818 to 1821, is where the founder of the Girl Scouts, Juliette Gordon Low, lived. Tours are available daily of the lovely house 10 AM to 4 PM and great retail space.
FYI: I was a Girl Scout leader for years and loved that scouts can get special badges at the birthplace. There are also several events throughout the year for Girl Scouts and parents.
11. Visit Savannah’s 22 Squares
I’ve visited Savannah a dozen times in the past, and walking through the squares has always been on our agenda. Though I admired the beauty, taking in the blooming flowers, dramatic live oaks dripping with moss, and eloquent sculptures and public art, I never really dove into the history of the squares until my last visit. Surprisingly, I learned much about them on the food and trolley tours mentioned above.
All 22 squares are situated on a one-square-mile and are part of Savannah’s National Landmark Historic District. The original four were part of James Oglethorpe’s original city plan: Wright, Ellis, Johnson, and Telfair, two of which have been renamed.
Savannah’s squares are a place to go to take their morning coffee, enjoy the weather, and participate in special events. In the springtime, the camellias are stunning.
12. Explore a Great Art Museum
Savannah’s Telfair Museum is the oldest in the south. The 1819 two-story mansion and its furnishings were bequeathed to the Georgia Historical Society in 1875. On display are 19th and 20th-century artwork, furniture, and silver. You can find the iconic Bird Girl statue (of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil fame) at the Telfair, initially in the Bonaventure Cemetery.
FYI: Admission to the Telfair Museum also gets you into two others: Jepson Center and Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters.
Fun Fact: The house from John Berendt’s novel, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, the Mercer Williams House Museum, always has a crowd outside. You can see it at 429 Bull Street. Jim Williams restored and lived in the elegant house supposedly haunted and featured on the Ghost City tours.
13. Sample Byrd’s Cookies
The Byrd Cookie Company has been in operation since 1924, and we are so thankful for that. The bite-size cookies, now available in a dozen flavors, taste so delicious and make great gifts, too. Though I had been ordering them for years and buying them out of holiday catalogs for friends near and wide, I had not been to the store until my last Savannah visit.
The Byrd Cookie Company is located on Waters Avenue, which was as stylish and lovely as the cookies are delicious.
The flavors I picked up were Georgia Peach Cookies, Key Lime Coolers, and Scotch Oatmeal Cookies. They didn’t stand a chance of even lasting a week. Gluten-free options are also available.
14. Stroll the Historic District
Including the 22 squares mentioned above, Savannah’s National Historic Landmark district is the largest in the country. Here, walking around to glimpse the houses, manicured gardens, fountains, flowers, and historic forts are a free and second-to-none attraction.
For me, Savannah is one of the best cities to walk around in and explore. Besides the colorful houses, artsy alleys, and cobblestone streets, be on the lookout for the Greene House (Madison Square), Edmund Molyneux Mansion (Bull St.), and Spencer Woodbridge House (Habersham).
Where to Stay in Savannah
I always love and look for a Historic Hotel of America in the cities I’m traveling to. One of HHOA’s designated and affiliated hotels, the Desoto Savannah on Liberty Street in the Historic District, is one of the best choices for an elegant, low-country luxe hotel, convenience, and fantastic rooms.
From first stepping into the glitzy and polished lobby to the well-appointed spacious rooms, you are going to enjoy a bit of the good life while staying in Savannah.
My hotel room featured a King-sized bed, a small balcony with two chairs, contemporary lamps, and a huge window with black-out shades. An enormous shower and high-end toiletries donned the bathroom. The terraces are perfect for skyline views of the Southern city and one of the tallest buildings in town.
Downstairs, the hotel has an onsite restaurant with farm-to-table Southern cuisine (1540 Room, and a coffee snack bar, Buffalo Bayou. If Buffalo Bayou has the luscious lemon bars, you’ll want to try one. Enjoy an adult libation from the skillful and gorgeous Edgar’s Proof & Provision gastropub, offering “modern mixology” in a magazine-spread-worthy space.
Outside, an elevated pool terrace and patio are delightful, with sun floats for the shallow part of the waters and lounge chair seating around it. Fire pits and fountains add allure to the cabana bar, serving tantalizing craft cocktails. Swaying palm trees add to the “vacation” vibe.
Savannah, Georgia, is a place like no other, with oodles of fun things to see and do, let alone taste. It will steal your heart at first glance —don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Portions of my Savannah trip were hosted by Visit Savannah and Historic Hotels of America. As always, opinions and reviews are 100% mine and unbiased.
See other things to do in Georgia in these posts: